Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre is offering several safety tips to the public for the upcoming holiday season. “During the week of Thanksgiving, many residents go on vacation or start their holiday shopping,” said Sheriff Webre. “We want to offer you some safety tips to keep your property safe while you’re away and to conduct financial transactions as safe as possible.”
For those planning to leave home for vacation, Sheriff Webre offers these safety tips:
- Double-check all doors and windows before leaving. This may seem obvious, but you may have left a window unlocked for weeks unknowingly. Don’t forget to secure your garage door as well and remove any spare keys you have stashed outside.
- Unplug electronics and small appliances. By unplugging TVs, coffee makers, lamps and computers, you can avoid costly repairs if there is a power surge or worse, a fire.
- Ask a neighbor or friend to check on your residence each day. Have them check the mail and pick up any newspapers to avoid the appearance that no one is home.
- Install exterior and interior lights with timers or motion detectors.This can help to leave the impression that someone might be home.
- Secure any vehicle being left behind and remove all valuables from it. If a vehicle burglary occurs while you are away, you may not even realize it until you return home. Avoid making your vehicle an easy target by locking the doors and removing all valuable items.
- Consider waiting to post photos and videos from your vacation to social media until after you’ve returned home. This advertises that you are not home and makes you a potential target for criminals.
Beginning this week, retail outlets traditionally offer significant sales and deals luring multitudes of consumers to their stores and websites. The large crowds at physical sites and people seeking the best deals online, attract criminals as well. The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division will be conducting extra patrols in and around shopping centers and retail outlets throughout the parish during the busy holiday shopping season, but there are many ways consumers can protect themselves from becoming a victim:
- Be smart about parking. Lock your vehicle, and ensure all windows are closed. Park in well-lit areas away from dumpsters or larger vehicles that can serve as hiding places for thieves or carjackers. Never hide a second set of keys in a vehicle, and never leave a vehicle running or unattended.
- Keep purchases out of sight. Hide purchases and store bags by keeping them in a trunk, or bring blankets and garbage bags to conceal your purchases. Change parking locations each time you store purchases in your vehicle in case thieves are watching. Try making expensive purchases last giving thieves less opportunity to steal.
- Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and gifts, especially outside the store. Locate your keys before arriving at your vehicle, and never put bags down or on top of a vehicle to open a door. Do not make more purchases than you are able to carry. Never leave a purse unattended in a shopping cart.
- Only use ATMs in well-lit locations. Only use an ATM if necessary, and only withdraw the amount of cash needed. When possible, carry cash in your front pocket instead of your wallet or purse. Protect your PIN number at ATMs and registers by shielding the keypad from bystanders. Using a drive-up ATM is generally safest, but always remember to check your surroundings.
- Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Con artists may try various ways to distract your attention with the intention of stealing your money or belongings. Be wary of anyone approaching you needing “quick cash” or offering you a large check for a smaller amount of cash. You’ll likely end up holding a bad check.
- Only make secure online transactions. When shopping online, check for a “secure” icon in the address bar when you begin the checkout process. The URL should begin with the letters “https”. Always begin an online shopping session by typing the address of the official website in the address bar instead of clicking on a link from another website or email. This will help avoid “phishing” sites and emails which often look like official sites but are used to steal your financial information.
- Ensure packages are delivered to a person. When having items shipped, choose a location where someone will be present in lieu of allowing packages to be left unattended. Most delivery companies will also offer the option of picking up the package at their facility.
- Save all receipts. If something is stolen, a receipt is often the easiest way to begin tracking the stolen item because it includes the time of checkout as well as pertinent information about the purchase. When making purchases online, save all correspondence and order confirmations.
Following these tips will not only help protect yourself and your family, but you’ll make it easier to catch criminals and put them behind bars to prevent them from victimizing others. When it comes to scams, always remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For more tips on avoiding scams, go to LPSO.net/Scams.